Why I Love Writing

By James Van Pelt
Sep 7, 2018 · 564 words · 3 minutes

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker via Unsplash.

I'm new to Curious Fictions, and this seemed like a good time to introduce myself.  I could tell you about my long love for genre fiction that started in elementary school, and how Ray Bradbury and Zenna Henderson (and Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the Tom Corbett Space Cadet books, and the Littleton Public Library) rocked my world.  Or I could talk about deciding I wanted to teach when I was in high school, and how that shaped my life for the next several decades, or I could talk about the importance of my wife and sons to my happiness.

I'll save those for another time, though.  I think the best way to introduce myself is to tell you why I like to write.

1)   I love opening a fresh file, putting my name and address in the left corner, then spacing to the middle of the page to start a new story.

2)   I love when a story rolls easily.  I type with my eyes closed, letting the almost physical current of the story move me.

3)   I love making up character names, and then thinking about them so often with such intensity that I start dreaming them.

4)   I love realizing I've written the perfect line of dialogue or a description that could only exist in that story, that makes perfect sense in that story, but would be nonsensical anywhere else.  It's like Dr. Bennel saying, "I didn't know the meaning of fear until I kissed Becky," in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Christoff saying, "Cue the sun," in The Truman Show.

5)   I love writing a story on my laptop while sitting in my van in a parking lot, during a snow storm, while my son does a basketball practice.

6)   I love the rush of knowing a story's end before I get there, when all my own composition questions are suddenly answered and I know where I'm going.

7)   I love that as an adult I haven't lost my passion for science fiction and fantasy.  This is no small deal either.  When I was in junior high, a teacher told me I'd outgrow science fiction.  It was the grimmest thing a grownup ever said to me.

8)   I love finishing a story because now I have something to edit.  Lots of people hate editing, but I really like going back through to make the story better.  Adding, subtracting, rearranging, rewording, 10% solutioning, rethinking and any other "ing" I left out are all fun to me.

9)   I love standing in line at the post office with a manuscript in hand, which is how publishing worked when I started.  Now I love identifying the right market for a story and submitting it with the press of a couple keys.

10)   I love getting mail from editors.

11)   I love when a kid in one of my classes comes to class with one of my books and says, "Did you really write this?"

12)   I love SFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America).  No, not the bickering.  I love a club of adults who believe it's okay and fun to think of the world in science fictional and fantasy terms.  I love that so many of them are deeply and integrally involved with language and story telling.

I've been writing most of my life.  I'm in love with the written word, and I love story.  Hopefully that passion comes out when people read my work.

James Van Pelt

An interviewer asked the author if he wanted to be the next Stephen King: he said, "No, I want to be the first James Van Pelt."